Discover these beautiful caves and historic places in the Pasiegos Valleys

We could say that Pasiegos Valleys are the heart and lungs of Cantabria. The depopulation suffered for centuries makes us think that this may be the main reason for its natural wealth. But thanks to the human presence and the activities that its people carried out in the area, today we also have a unique legacy.

Besides their delicious sobaos and quesadas pasiegas, Pasiegos Valleys are known for their number of prehistoric caves that contain valuable cave paintings.

Although the most famous cave in Cantabria is Altamira, we are sorry to say that this one does not belong to Pasiegos Valleys (although it is only about 20 minutes away from where we are, so don't miss it if you have the chance)! However, we propose a route of fascinating caves that are much less crowded than their famous counterpart. 

A walk through the caves of Pasiegos Valleys

Starting with the northernmost and perhaps most pictorially affluent, we find Cueva de El Castillo. An underground route that contains an entire prehistoric museum of artistic expression created by Homo Sapiens. Palaeolithic artists not only recorded their graphics but also their techniques. The most significant themes are the varied bestiary featuring animals with which they cohabited and the representation of humans through the "stamping" of hands.

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Leave the car behind and take a 10-15 minute walk to the next cave: Cueva de las Monedas (Coin Cave). This cave is recognised for being the largest in the region and for the singularity of its name: although it was officially discovered in 1952, it seems that a 16th century visitor either lost or hid at a depth of 23 metres (we favour the second option) a set of 20 coins from the time of the Catholic Monarchs. 

The tour is a visual spectacle thanks to its stalactites (ceiling) and stalagmites (floor, so you don't get confused) among other geological and mineral formations. A very "instagrameable" delight for those addicted to this social network.

Unfortunately for tourists, but fortunately for the conservation of Rock Art, archaeologists have decided to close Caves of La Pasiega and Las Chimeneas to prevent their deterioration. Even so, we can still enjoy some samples found in both caves in the Regional Museum of Prehistory and Archaeology of Santander.

Repopulation, monasteries and palaces

As we have already mentioned, after 150,000 years of human occupation, Pasiego Valleys suffered a massive depopulation and only from the 11th century did the region experience a population increase. 

The peak of the monastery foundation and transhumant cattle breeding between the 11th and 13th centuries left an immortal legacy that allowed us to get to know Pasiego Valleys as they were formed at that time. A journey in time that allows us to enjoy the most valuable Romanesque architecture. You don't have to dig too deep to discover numerous manor houses and cottages or spectacular collegiate churches and palaces along the way.

As one might imagine, the huts were the summer-time residences of the Pasiegos, as the transhumant shepherds were called. Initially, the huts were very poor, made of planks, but they began to be built in stone little by little. 

On the other hand, the mountain mansions are a type of manor house and the most significant buildings in the region's architecture. They reached their apogee between the 17th and 18th centuries when the cultivation of maize and economic growth developed. 

The collegiate churches and palaces are the most monumental buildings in the region, with a baroque essence that remains almost intact until nowadays.

Collegiate church, Castañeda, Pasiegos valleys
Collegiate Church of Santa Cruz de Castañeda

In short, there is much to discover in Pasiego Valleys. Do you really want your holiday to be complete? Then take the opportunity to get to know the beautiful local rural houses and complete your authentic experience in rural Spain.